This report from the recent Fans’ Forum was posted on the West Ham Mailing List yesterday. Thanks to them for permission to reproduce it here.
Around 25 people attended the forum it was headed by Nick Igoe and Scott Duxbury. Duxbury was not what I’d expected, I always had the impression that coming from a legal background, (under Maurice Watkins, Manchester United’s legal guy), that he would be something of a slimy git, but he did come across well, and it’s easy to see why he’s reached such a lofty position before he’s reached 40. Igoe is a typical financial man, deals strictly in numbers and doesn’t have anywhere near Duxbury’s charm. I was surprised at how candid they were, in particular with regard to the performances of certain players, the dialogue seemed genuine, though I’ve been around long enough to take things with a heavy dose of sort.
The cost of a season ticket is expected to rise in line with the ‘cost of living’, by West Ham’s calculation this is between 4-5%. This was met with dismay, especially given the quality of the football we’ve seen this year. It was suggested that a freeze on season ticket prices would be a great PR exercise, though Igoe stressed that it would cost the club somewhere in the region of £600k to do so. He couldn’t see the argument that it wouldn’t actually ‘cost’ the club anything, seeing as it never had the money to lose, all he said was that if a freeze was applied it would have to be made up from somewhere. Duxbury said that the decision had not been formally announced and that given the strength of feeling our concerns would be raised with other board members.
The proposed site at West Ham is now in doubt, due to the close proximity of the gasometers. The situation arose when Surrey CCC wanted to build a new stand at the Oval and the H&S Executive refused permission on the grounds that development would create a risk. Surrey CCC have appealed to the Secretary of State, but if the appeal is rejected then the Parcelforce site is unlikely to happen in the short term. They did say that there were other options for the location of a new stadium, but did confirm that any new development will not be like Wigan and Bolton, in the middle of nowhere. There as also a mention of the Olympic Stadium and my personal impression was that this is not totally dead in the water. There is a feeling that the stadium will become something of a white elephant, in the same way the dome did, the costs of staging the games will soar and the pressure will be on to recoup some of that money. Should that happen, West Ham will be in a very strong negotiating position and we would be calling the shots as to what we want from the legacy.
New Training Ground
Land will be purchased within the next 2 weeks, (Rush Green, though they would not confirm this), and a new ‘State of the Art’ training complex, costing ‘several millions’ will be built.
The mess that is our merchandising department was mentioned and the failure of this was laid at the door of Eggy’s son-in-law, who was appointed to run the operation. It was mention about the lack of high street presence the club has, in that merchandise is only available through the club shop. Duxbury said that he understands how inconvenient this is for some, but said it is the downside of the deal
that has been struck with Umbro, a deal which still has 2 years to run. Shirt sales have been ‘phenomenal’, in excess of 50,000 have been sold, a new home shirt will be produced in June, with the away shirt in July, a new kit every year is again of the Umbro deal.
The only pressure on is to reduce the quantity of the squad without compromising the quality, I took this to mean that all the dead wood will be removed in the summer. I asked Duxbury about his ‘no big name signings’ quote, saying that it sounded just like the old West Ham rather than a ‘New Beginning’. He confirmed that what he said was taken out of context and that we want to be in a position where we had 2 quality players for each position. He did say if a big name player did become available who the manger would like to sign then there would be nothing to stop us from doing so.
Director of Football
Nani’s brief is to head a co-ordinated scouting network throughout Europe. Amazingly this is something the club have never had and it will be down to Nani to unearth young talent and bring them to the
There was support for Curbishley in the Boardroom, but the reservations among the fans present was obvious. The lack of entertainment, the failure to play youngsters, the tactics of the side were all questioned. Duxbury confirmed that both he and the board were ‘very unhappy’ with the manner in which we’ve fallen away and performances this season generally. Curbishley is under no illusions
as to what is expected of him, though it appears that the board are prepared to allow him to get all his players fit and playing before considering his future, though if things don’t go well on Saturday I
expect this to change. Next seasons expectations are a top 6 finish and a European place, if it’s not achieved it will be seen as failure. The lack of leadership on the field was mentioned, as was the failure of Curbishley to form any real rapport with the fans, Duxbury agreed with both points and said they were concerns that needed to be addressed.
Reports that our training methods, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation are being investigated by SPARC were correct, it was something Duxbury instigated and supported by BG. The current medical
team were appointed by Curbishley, people who he had worked with previously and trusted, this will no longer be the case. The medical team will come under the wing of Nani, a separate entity, or ‘resource’, they will be appointed on the basis of their ability before anything else.
This will be finally settled in June, there are no further avenues they can take. West Ham are confident the panel will rule against Sheffield United, their claim is misplaced and we have done nothing wrong. Duxbury feels that the motivation is simply money, that if they shout loudly enough we will come to an out of court agreement and pay them off just to be rid of the entire business. This is not going to happen West Ham will not back down in any way. The action being brought about by Joorachiban is a private action, Duxbury stated that there is ‘no substance’ to his claims that Eggy agreed to pay costs to secure the services of Tevez, as he was present at all meetings. He reiterated that the claims were ‘false’ and he was confident that West Ham would successfully defend any action.
BG has no intention of selling up, the position of the Icelandic Banking Industry has no impact on his plans or personal wealth. Curbishley took the decision not to enter the Inter-Toto as he felt it would interfere with pre-season preparations. The game in Toronto was purely a commercial one, a way of expanding the ‘West Ham brand’. There are no real bonuses for finishing 10th, a position the boardØ
are not happy with. There will be no ground share with Tottenham! Another forum may be arranged in the close season with the manager and some players in attendance, though Curbishley is reluctant! Defoe was advised by Brooking to sign a new contract with the club, saying that West Ham would not stand in the way of any player who wanted to leave. He ignored Sir Trev’s advice, sided with his agent
and the rest is history. As an aside Igoe said that after negotiations Defoe’s mum was seen outside the ground in the car hitting his agent! Duxbury confirmed that Benayoun was tapped up by Liverpool and refused to play for West Ham again until he got his move. Liverpool tried to tie in the deal with our signing of Bellamy which we were unhappy about.
The meeting wound up about 9:20 where we adjourned to the bar and Igoe got in the first round! He stayed to chat generally with supporters, without going into specifics. I didn’t think this exercise was a waste of time, discussions were open and frank and I’d like to think that the concerns that were raised will be acted on.